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IT skills gap is really an education gap

Gary Beach | Oct. 16, 2013
Gary Beach suggests that the technology skills gap issue is really due to an education gap. When it comes to math and science education, is the United States a nation at risk?

The long tail of overcrowded classrooms and incompetent teaching of this era remains with America to this day as about 40% of the current teacher population in the United States are Baby Boomers. Teachers whose generation was subjected to horrendous education conditions in America. Teachers whose generation did not learn well math, and science, skills from teachers who shouldn't have been teachers.

(Aside: if you took the SAT test prior to 1995, I can guarantee you that reading The U.S.Technology Skills Gap will add over 100 points to your score. I am not kidding.)

Other cracks were forming in the United States' education gap. One year after the SAT train wreck began in 1963, the First International Mathematics, organized by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, was fielded in 1964 among eighth grade students around the world.

America's students didn't do well. They came in 13th.

Out of 14 countries included in the study.

Seven years later, in 1971, the same organization conducted a science assessment test again among eighth grade students. Different subject. Same result. America's students came in next to last among the 13 countries that participated in the test.

Those results should have shocked America. Instead, it was pushed aside by even more prominent news as the political assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, racial tension in America's cities, the growing involvement of our country in the Vietnam War and Watergate dominated headlines across the United States.

Read this paragraph. After you do, I have two questions for you.

When was it written? And, by whom was it written?

This paragraph is extracted from A Nation at Risk, a report released by the U.S.Department of Education in April 1983  The report was an immediate hit with the media with headlines like "Education Panel Sees Rising Tide of Mediocrity", "U.S. Education Unsatisfactory" and "Failure in Education" appearing in editorials across the country.

But the findings and recommendations of Nation at Risk, a report written to warn Americans about how our country was falling behind Japan in key industries like automobiles, electronics, photography and office automation, were not embraced.

Besides the attention grabbing headlines, the report did little to stem the tide of mediocre student performance in academic assessment tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education or private organizations like the College Entrance Examination Board who conducts the well-known SAT test.

Over the next 30 years, from 1983 - 2013 , as a litany of results from other tests were released by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011), the Programme International Student Assessment test (2000,2003,2006, 2009), and more stringent national testing mandated by law through the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress's "No Child Left Behind" initiative, this sombering picture of America's education gap came into clear focus:


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